East Timor (i/ˌiːst ˈtiːmɔr/) or Timor-Leste (/tiˈmɔr ˈlɛʃteɪ/; Tetum: Timór Lorosa'e; Portuguese: Timor-Leste), officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. [a] It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor. The country's size is about 15,410 km² (5,400 sq mi).
East Timor was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until Portugal's decolonization of the country. In late 1975, East Timor declared its independence, but later that year was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year. In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. East Timor is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in East Asia, the other being the Philippines.
East Timor has a lower-middle-income economy. It continues to suffer the aftereffects of a decades-long independence struggle against Indonesia, which damaged infrastructure and displaced thousands of civilians. It is placed 147th by Human Development Index (HDI).
It is a member of the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
"Timor" derives from timur, the word for "east" in Indonesian and Malay, which became Timor in Portuguese and entered English as Portuguese Timor. Lorosa'e (lit "rising sun") is the word for "east" in Tetum.
The official names under the Constitution are República Democrática de Timor-Leste in Portuguese (pronounced: [tiˈmoɾ ˈlɛʃtɨ]) and Repúblika Demokrátika Timor-Leste in Tetum. The Indonesian name Timor Timur, abbreviated Timtim, is now very rarely used, with the Indonesian government and media now using Timor Leste.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) official short form in English and all other languages is Timor-Leste (codes: TLS & TL), which has been adopted by the United Nations, the European Union, and the national standards organisations of France (AFNOR), the United States of America (ANSI), United Kingdom (BSI), Germany (DIN) and Sweden (SIS). A notable exception to this practice is Australia, which uses "East Timor".
The island's former two-letter country code, TP, is gradually being phased out.
It is believed that descendants from at least three waves of migration still live in East Timor. The first were related to the principal Australoid indigenous groups of New Guinea and Australia, and arrived before 40,000 years ago. Around 3000 BC, Austronesians migrated to Timor, and are thought to be associated with the development of agriculture on the island. Thirdly, proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina. Before colonialism Timor was included in Chinese and Indian trading networks, being in the 14th century an exporter of aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey and wax. Early European explorers report that the island had a number of small chiefdoms or princedoms in the early 16th century.
The Portuguese established outposts in Timor and Maluku. Effective European occupation of a small part of the territory began in 1769, when the city of Dili was founded and the colony of Portuguese Timor declared. A definitive border between the Dutch colonised western half of the island and the Portuguese colonised eastern half of the island was established by the Hague Treaty of 1914, and it remains the international boundary between the successor states East Timor and Indonesia. For the Portuguese, East Timor remained little more than a neglected trading post until the late nineteenth century, with minimal investment in infrastructure, health, and education. Sandalwood remained the main export crop with coffee exports becoming significant in the mid-nineteenth century. In places where Portuguese rule was asserted, it tended to be brutal and exploitative.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a faltering home economy prompted the Portuguese to extract greater wealth from its colonies, which was met with Timorese resistance. During World War II, the Japanese occupied Dili, and the mountainous interior became the scene of a guerrilla campaign, known as the Battle of Timor. Waged by Allied forces and Timorese volunteers against the Japanese, the struggle resulted in the deaths of between 40,000 and 70,000 Timorese. Following the end of the war, Portuguese control was reinstated.
The decolonisation process instigated by the 1974 Portuguese revolution saw Portugal effectively abandon the colony of East Timor. A civil war between supporters of East Timorese political parties, Fretilin and the UDT, broke out in 1975 as UDT attempted a coup which Fretilin resisted with the help of local Portuguese military. Independence was unilaterally declared on November 28, 1975. The Indonesian government was fearful of an independent communist state within the Indonesian archipelago, and at the height of the Cold War, Western governments were supportive of Indonesia's position. The Indonesian military launched a full-scale invasion of East Timor in December 1975. Indonesia declared East Timor as its 27th province on July 17, 1976. The UN Security Council opposed the invasion and the territory's nominal status in the UN remained "non-self-governing territory under Portuguese administration."
Indonesia's occupation of East Timor was marked by violence and brutality. A detailed statistical report prepared for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor cited a minimum bound of 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period 1974–1999, namely, approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 "excess" deaths from hunger and illness. The East Timorese guerrilla force, Falintil, fought a campaign against the Indonesian forces from 1975–1999. The 1991 Dili Massacre was a turning point for the independence cause internationally, and an East Timor solidarity movement grew in Portugal, Australia, and the United States.
Following the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal allowed for UN-supervised popular referendum in August 1999. The resulting clear vote for independence was met with a punitive campaign of violence by Timorese pro-integration militia with the support of elements of the Indonesian military. An Australian-led international peacekeeping force, INTERFET, was sent (with Indonesian permission) until order was restored. The administration of East Timor was taken over by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in October 1999. The INTERFET deployment ended in February 2000 with the transfer of military command to the UN. East Timorese independence was formalised on May 20, 2002 with Xanana Gusmão sworn in as the country's first President. East Timor became a member of the UN on September 27, 2002.
The following year, Gusmão declined another presidential term and in the build-up to the April 2007 presidential elections there were renewed outbreaks of violence. José Ramos-Horta was elected President in the May 2007 election. Ramos-Horta was critically injured in an attempted assassination in February 2008. Prime Minister Gusmão also faced gunfire separately but escaped unharmed. Australian reinforcements were immediately sent to help keep order.
In 2006, the United Nations sent in security forces to restore order when unrest and factional fighting forced 15 percent of the population (155,000 people) to flee their homes. In March 2011, the UN handed-off operational control of the police force to the East Timor authorities, but more than 1,200 UN police officers still patrol on the street. After the 2012 presidential election, the missions are scheduled to end.
The head of state of East Timor is the President of East Timor, who is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. Although the role is largely symbolic, the president does have veto power over certain types of legislation. Following elections, the president appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition as the Prime Minister of East Timor. As head of government, the prime minister presides over the Council of State or cabinet.
The unicameral Timorese parliament is the National Parliament or Parlamento Nacional, whose members are elected by popular vote to a five-year term. The number of seats can vary from a minimum of fifty-two to a maximum of sixty-five, though it exceptionally has eighty-eight members at present, due to this being its first term of office. The East Timorese constitution was modelled on that of Portugal. The country is still in the process of building its administration and governmental institutions.
Government departments include the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (police), East Timor Ministry for State and Internal Administration, Civil Aviation Division of Timor Leste and Immigration Department of Timor Leste.
East Timor is divided into thirteen administrative districts. The districts are subdivided into 65 subdistricts, 442 sucos (villages) and 2,225 aldeias (hamlets).
Located in southeast Asia, the island of Timor is part of the Maritime Southeast Asia, and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. To the north of the mountainous island are the Ombai Strait, Wetar Strait and the greater Banda Sea, to the south the Timor Sea separates the island from Australia, while to the west lies the Indonesian Province of East Nusa Tenggara. The highest mountain of East Timor is Tatamailau (also known as Mount Ramelau) at 2,963 meters (9,721 ft).
East Timor lies between latitudes 8° and 10°S, and longitudes 124° and 128°E.
The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, characterised by distinct rainy and dry seasons. The capital, largest city and main port is Dili, and the second-largest city is the eastern town of Baucau.
The easternmost area of Timor-Leste consists of the Paitchau Range and Iralalaro area. This area is the first conservation area in Timor-Leste, the Nino Konis Santana National Park. It contains the last remaining tropical dry forested area within the country. It hosts a number of unique plant and animal species and is sparsely populated. The northern coast is characterised by a number of coral reef systems that have been determined to be at risk.
Prior to and during colonization, Timor was best known for its sandalwood.
In late 1999, about 70% of the economic infrastructure of East Timor was destroyed by Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias, and 260,000 people fled westward. From 2002 to 2005, an international program led by the UN, manned by civilian advisers, 5,000 peacekeepers (8,000 at peak) and 1,300 police officers, substantially reconstructed the infrastructure. By mid-2002, all but about 50,000 of the refugees had returned.
One promising long-term project is the joint development with Australia of petroleum and natural gas resources in the waters southeast of Timor. The Portuguese colonial administration granted concessions to Oceanic Exploration Corporation to develop the deposits. However, this was curtailed by the Indonesian invasion in 1976. The resources were divided between Indonesia and Australia with the Timor Gap Treaty in 1989. The treaty established guidelines for joint exploitation of seabed resources in the area of the "gap" left by then-Portuguese Timor in the maritime boundary agreed between the two countries in 1972. Revenues from the "joint" area were to be divided 50%–50%. Woodside Petroleum and ConocoPhillips began development of some resources in the Timor Gap on behalf of the two governments in 1992.
East Timor inherited no permanent maritime boundaries when it attained independence, repudiating the Timor Gap Treaty as illegal. A provisional agreement (the Timor Sea Treaty, signed when East Timor became independent on May 20, 2002) defined a Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), and awarded 90% of revenues from existing projects in that area to East Timor and 10% to Australia. The first significant new development in the JPDA since Timorese independence is the largest petroleum resource in the Timor Sea, the Greater Sunrise gas field. Its exploitation was the subject of separate agreements in 2003 and 2005. Only 20% of the field lies within the JPDA and the rest in waters not subject to the treaty (though claimed by both countries). The initial, temporary agreement gave 82% of revenues to Australia and only 18% to East Timor.[dead link]
The government of East Timor has sought to negotiate a definite boundary with Australia at the halfway line between the countries, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The government of Australia preferred to establish the boundary at the end of the wide Australian continental shelf, as agreed with Indonesia in 1972 and 1991. Normally a dispute such as this would be referred to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for an impartial decision, but the Australian government had withdrawn itself from these international jurisdictions (solely on matters relating to maritime boundaries) shortly before Timorese independence. Nevertheless, under public and diplomatic pressure, the Australian government offered instead a last-minute concession on Greater Sunrise gas field royalties alone. On July 7, 2005, an agreement was signed under which both countries would set aside the dispute over the maritime boundary, and East Timor would receive 50% of the revenues (estimated at A$26 billion or about US$20 billion over the lifetime of the project) from the Greater Sunrise development. Other developments within waters claimed by East Timor but outside the JPDA (Laminaria-Corallina and Buffalo) continue to be exploited unilaterally by Australia, however.
In 2007, a bad harvest led to deaths in several parts of Timor-Leste. In November 2007, eleven subdistricts still needed food supplied by international aid.
East Timor also has a large and potentially lucrative coffee industry, which sells organic coffee to numerous Fair Trade retailers and on the open market.
There are no patent laws in East Timor.
The population of East Timor is about one million. It has grown considerably recently, because of a high birth rate and because of the return of refugees. The population is especially concentrated in the area around Dili.
The Timorese are called Maubere collectively by some of their political organizations, an originally derogatory name turned into a name of pride by Fretilin. They consist of a number of distinct ethnic groups, most of whom are of mixed Malayo-Polynesian and Melanesian/Papuan descent. The largest Malayo-Polynesian ethnic groups are the Tetum (or Tetun) (100,000), primarily in the north coast and around Dili; the Mambae (80,000), in the central mountains; the Tukudede (63,170), in the area around Maubara and Liquiçá; the Galoli (50,000), between the tribes of Mambae and Makasae; the Kemak (50,000) in north-central Timor island; and the Baikeno (20,000), in the area around Pante Macassar. The main tribes of predominantly Papuan origin include the Bunak (50,000), in the central interior of Timor island; the Fataluku (30,000), at the eastern tip of the island near Lospalos; and the Makasae, toward the eastern end of the island. In addition, like other former Portuguese colonies where interracial marriage was common, there is a smaller population of people of mixed Timorese and Portuguese origin, known in Portuguese as mestiços. The East Timorese mestiço best-known internationally is José Ramos-Horta, the spokesman for the resistance movement in exile, and now President of East Timor. Mário Viegas Carrascalão, Indonesia's appointed governor between 1987 and 1992, is also a mestiço. East Timor also has a small Chinese minority, most of whom are Hakka. Most left after the Indonesian invasion, with most moving to Australia although many Sino-Timorese have returned, including Pedro Lay, the Minister for Infrastructure.
Upon independence, East Timor became one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia (along with the Philippines), although nearby parts of Indonesia also have Catholic majorities, including West Timor and Flores. The population predominantly identifies as Roman Catholic (97%), though local animist traditions have a persistent and strong influence on the culture. The number of churches has grown from 100 in 1974 to over 800 in 1994. Religious minorities include Muslims (1%) (including former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri) and Protestants (1%) (including Taur Matan Ruak, Commander of the Falintil-FDTL). Smaller Hindu (0.5%), Buddhist (0.1%) and traditional animist minorities make up the remainder. Church membership grew considerably under Indonesian rule, as Indonesia's state ideology Pancasila does not recognize traditional beliefs and requires all citizens to believe in God. Although the struggle was not about religion, as a deep-rooted local institution the Church not only symbolized East Timor's distinction from predominantly Muslim Indonesia, but also played a significant role in the resistance movement, as personified by Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The constitution acknowledges the Church's role among the East Timorese people and stipulates a secular state that guarantees freedom of religion to everyone.
East Timor's two official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, which belongs to the Austronesian family of languages spoken throughout Southeast Asia. The predominant form of Tetum, known as Tetun-Dili, grew out of the dialect favored by the colonizers at Dili and, thus, has considerable Portuguese influence. Other dialects of Tetum are also widely used in the country, including Tetun-Terik which is spoken along the southwestern coast. Indonesian and English are defined as working languages under the Constitution in the Final and Transitional Provisions, without setting a final date. Another 15 indigenous languages are spoken: Bekais, Bunak, Dawan, Fataluku, Galoli, Habun, Idalaka, Kawaimina, Kemak, Lovaia, Makalero, Makasai, Mambai, Tokodede, and Wetarese.
Under Indonesian rule, the use of Portuguese was banned, but it was used by the clandestine resistance, especially in communicating with the outside world. The language, along with Tetum, gained importance as a symbol of resistance and freedom. It was adopted as one of the two official languages for this reason and as a link to nations in other parts of the world. It is now being taught and promoted widely with the help of Brazil, Portugal, and the Latin Union.
According to East Timor's 2010 census, along with other local languages, Tetum is the most common means of communication between ordinary Timorese: Almost 90% of Timorese use Tetum in their daily life, while Indonesian is still widely used in the media and school from high school to university by an estimated 35%. It is estimated that English is understood by 31.4% of the population. 23.5% speak, read and write Portuguese, which is up significantly from less than 5% in the 2006 UN Development Report. A large proportion of words in Tetum are derived from Portuguese, and it also shares many Malay-derived words with Indonesian. Many Indonesian words are still in common use in Tetum and other Timorese languages, particularly numbers.
East Timor is a member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), also known as the Lusophone Commonwealth, and a member of the Latin Union. It is the only independent state in Asia with Portuguese as an official language, although it is also one of the official languages of China's Special Administrative Region of Macau.
About half the adult population are illiterate. Illiteracy is higher among women. Illiteracy was at 90% at the end of Portuguese rule. In 2006, 10%–30% of primary-school age children did not attend school.
The country has the National University of East Timor. Indonesian plays a considerable role in education. Since the departure of the Portuguese, schools have increased from 50 to more than 800. There are also four colleges.
Life expectancy at birth was at 60.7 in 2007. The fertility rate is at six births per woman. Healthy life expectancy at birth was at 55 years in 2007. Government expenditure on health was at US$150 (PPP) per person in 2006. Many people in East Timor lack safe drinking water.
There were two hospitals and 14 village healthcare facilities in 1974. By 1994 there were 11 hospitals and 330 healthcare centres.
In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Timor-Leste is 370. This is compared with 928.6 in 2008 and 1016.3 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 60 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 48. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 (reduce child mortality) and Goal 5 (improve maternal health). In Timor-Leste the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 8 and 1 in 44 shows us the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women.
The culture of East Timor reflects numerous influences, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic, and Malaysia, on the indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian cultures of Timor. Legend has it that a giant crocodile was transformed into the island of Timor, or Crocodile Island, as it is often called. East Timorese culture is heavily influenced by Austronesian legends, although the Catholic influence is also strong. There is a strong tradition of poetry. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, for example, is a distinguished poet. As for architecture, some Portuguese-style buildings can be found, along with the traditional totem houses of the eastern region. These are known as uma lulik (sacred houses) in Tetum, and lee teinu (houses with legs) in Fataluku. Craftsmanship is also widespread, as is the weaving of traditional scarves or tais.
Sports organisations joined by East Timor include the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Badminton Federation (IBF), joined the Union Cycliste Internationale, the International Weightlifting Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), and East Timor's national football team joined FIFA. East Timorese athletes competed in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games held 2003. In the 2003 ASEAN Paralympics Games, East Timor won a bronze medal. In the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, East Timorese athletes participated in athletics, weightlifting and boxing. East Timor won three medals in Arnis at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. East Timor competed in the first Lusophony Games, and in October 2008, the country earned its first international points in a FIFA match with a 2–2 draw against Cambodia.
Notes and references
- Or ecologically part of Oceania depending on definitions. See Boundaries between continents#Asia and Oceania.
- Name used in the constitution (Konstituisaun Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste)
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- Shelton, Dinah. Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Thompson Gale.
- Taylor, John G. (1999). East Timor: The Price of Freedom. Australia: Pluto Press. ISBN 978-1-85649-840-1.
- East Timor: a bibliography, a bibliographic reference, Jean A. Berlie, launched by PM Xanana Gusmão, Indes Savantes editor, Paris, France, published in 2001. ISBN 978-2-84654-012-4, ISBN 978-2-84654-012-4.
- East Timor, politics and elections (in Chinese)/ 东帝汶政治与选举 (2001–2006): 国家建设及前景展望, Jean A. Berlie, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies of Jinan University editor, Jinan, China, published in 2007.